‘Compensate victims of human rights violations’

via ‘Compensate victims of human rights violations’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 24, 2015

Zimbabwe should legislate for the reparation of victims of past human rights violations if the country is to have an effective transitional justice process, a human rights lawyer has said.

By Everson Mushava

Chairperson of the National Transitional Justice Working Group (NJWGZ), Alec Muchadehama, said past violations could not be effectively dealt with if victims do not know the truth and are not compensated.

He was addressing members of the NJWGZ, a platform established by 46 non-State transitional justice stakeholders to provide the interface between stakeholders and official transitional justice processes in the country in Nyanga yesterday.

“The victims must be restored to their prior situation,” Muchadehama said.

“The reparations must also compensate the eviction for the consequences of the violation, and indemnification for material and non-material damages including emotional harm.”

The conference, coming at a time government is about to operationalise the Peace and National Healing Commission (PNHC), will lay the foundation for transitional justice processes in Zimbabwe.

“If there is an Act to operationalise the PNHC, that Act should also provide fair the compensation of the victims. Reparations should be proportional to the gravity of the violations and the harm suffered,” Muchadehama said.

He said there was need to demystify the view that reparations should only be monetary.

Zimbabwe has not dealt with most of its past human rights violations which span decades back from the pre-colonial era to the Matabeleland genocide that has come to be described as Gukurahundi to electoral violence by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF government.

Muchadehama said compensation of victims should be made mandatory. He said this would also act as a prohibitive factor to perpetrators, who are largely State actors.

“There should be a causal connection between the reparations, the violation found and the harm produced. The State must implement reparation measures without discrimination on any of the grounds recognised by international law,” he said.

Speaking at the same function, Tony Reeler, an independent transitional justice expert and leader of the NJWGTZ thematic group responsible for institutional reform, said transitional justice in Zimbabwe would only be possible if State institutions are reformed and government acts professionally and in a non-partisan manner.

Reeler said the country should have sound laws relating to torture and restitution.

He said security should be subjected to “the same standards of efficiency, equality and accountability as any other public service.”

“Disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration strategies need to be put in place to deal with previously armed groups,” Reeler said.

Also speaking at the conference, Father Fradereck Chiromba, who leads the thematic group on promotion of truth, said healing only takes place when people know the truth about what happened.

He said Zimbabwe was regrettably taking long to have an inquest into its past at a time a lot of critical witnesses were dying.
He said all stakeholders should be consulted in searching for the truth.

“Very soon, all the people who witnessed Gukurahundi will be dead and opportunities to know the truth are being lost,” Chiromba said.

Thematic leader for the memorialisation committees Rev Ray Motsi said reconciliation can only be pursued if the truth is known, no matter how sensitive. He said reconciliation should be victim-centred and should respect local customs and beliefs.


  • comment-avatar

    You either face the challenges or run away back to the drone
    known as the rat race. With predictive dialer lists, your dialing system is automatically fed thousands of leads to sift through.

    Employees may or may not be owners of shares, or parts of the corporation.